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Faust, or Dr Faustus, sold his (or her) soul to the devil



The classic German legend of Faust, popularised in the 1806 play by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe but perfected two centuries earlier (1592) by William Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher (Kit) Marlowe, tells of a successful but dissatisfied scholar who wants more than the mortal world can provide.

He ‘sells’ his soul to the immortal devil in return for knowledge and pleasure. Needless to say, deals with the devil end badly.

At the end of the tale, having enjoyed unlimited knowledge and exquisite human pleasure, under a signature of blood, Faust’s soul is given to the devil and dragged to hell for eternal damnation and torture. It’s a truly ripping yarn and moral lesson on the perils of mortal sin.

As with Milton in Paradise Lost (“Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven“) all the best lines go to the devil and in Faust(us)’s case, the devil is represented by Mephistopheles. Film buffs will just want Al Pacino as John Milton (or Satan), from Keanu Reeves’ movie The Devil’s Advocate, to say the Dr Faustus line, “All places shall be hell that is not heaven.”

So we turn to Faust’s namesake, the president of Harvard University, Drew Faust.

Depending on who you believe, Drew means courageous, masculine or in Anglo Saxon, wise. Faust literally translates to fist.

So we have, as the current boss at Harvard, a ‘wise fist’, who shares her name with a wise academic created to teach us something morally profound. No bad thing, until you read the real world Faust’s recent pronouncements about fossil fuel divestment.

It appears our ‘wise fist’ sees fossil fuel divestment as “neither warranted nor wise“. Is this the deal with the devil such a name warrants?

To maximise short-term profit for Harvard, the president of the university has ‘sold her soul’ to those who will condemn our planet to irreversible climate change.

The price of such an unwise view is huge. No less than condemning future generations to hell.

Faust said that fossil fuels companies “wouldn’t notice” Harvard’s divestment from fossil fuels. Really? What a profound message to the ‘free’ market from one of the world’s oldest and leading Ivy League universities. CEOs of oil and gas companies would certainly sit up and listen if Harvard divested from their firms.

Founded in 1636, English clergyman (and probable abolitionist) John Harvard’s deathbed bequest was to the fledgling college in Cambridge, Massachusetts that now bears his name as the first benefactor, if not founder, of the university. Students rub his imperfect resemblance statue’s toe in the university on their way to class.

But let us not forget that this is a university, with the world’s leading business school that has trained and profited from a generation of financial institutions’ senior executives, that manifestly failed to challenge or predict the ethical and financial bankruptcy of the self-same financial institutions before the 2008 crash.

Watch the film Inside Job to see Harvard’s alleged collusion and embarrassment about the financial crash (clips are hard to see online as, for some unknown reason, all have vanished or been blocked for ‘copyright infringement’).

We know it’s hot in hell, but a 2C increase in temperature will be catastrophic for all of us, no matter how privileged our education.

Maybe Drew Faust is just trying to acclimatise herself to the heat she’ll face in the future. After all, her students will be the ones paying the very heavy price for her declared investment policy in years to come, long after she’s gone to meet a choir – either demonic and pitchforked or angelic and soulful – having left this mortal coil to prop up the daisies.

Faust also said, “Divestment would hurt Harvard’s bottom’s line.” In the meantime, investment in fossil fuels is hurting its students’ future, and their triple bottom line. Research by Impax Asset Management in July actually said that divesting from fossil fuels was a compelling win-win for investors and that claims of underperformance were misleading.

In Marlowe’s play, Mephistopheles tells Dr Faustus, “It is comfort to the wretched to have companions in misery.” Meanwhile, Drew Faust concludes, “The [Harvard] endowment is not an instrument to impel social or political change.”

How about improving the future life chances of your Harvard students, then?

Faust’s view (both the Harvard president and the fictional moral lesson guy) is genuinely wretched and she (the Harvard president) joins a league of companions in misery with this tragically short-sighted opinion.

Harvard’s motto is ‘Veritas’, or ‘truth’.

Human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change is the ‘truth’ and our generation’s slavery. And climate change is principally caused by burning fossil fuels. Drew Faust appears to think there is no contradiction between her role educating the young and sabotaging their future through what Harvard invests in.

With her comments, she devalues a Harvard degree to the point of irrelevance. If she genuinely reflected the view of Harvard academics, then the greatest university in the world has been hijacked by lunatics.

Can it be a coincidence that the esteemed author JK Rowling chose crimson as the colour of her preferred house in Hogwarts, Gryffindor, as that is the colour of one of the world’s most prestigious universities, Harvard? Harvard nearly went for magenta in 1875. (Incidentally, Rowling gave this excellent Harvard commencement speech in 2008.)

In The Philosopher’s Stone, the sorting hat says to Harry Potter, “You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave of heart, their daring, nerve and chivalry, set Gryffindors apart.”

As one of the Forbes 100 most powerful women in the world, it is genuinely tragic for future generations that Drew Faust shares the decisions of her reactionary namesake. However, it is not as progressive as the brave of heart of those who are sorted into a fictional house that shares her college’s colours.

In the history of the world, it is those that do good against extraordinary odds who are recognised by all. Those who profit from short-term commercial gain tend to be judged a lot more harshly. We can only wonder what President Faust’s students and great-grandchildren will think of her ignorant pronouncements in a few years’ time.

Chivalry means, “The qualities idealised by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honour, and gallantry.”

Faustian means, “Insatiably striving for worldly knowledge, profit and power even at the price of spiritual values; ‘a Faustian pact with the devil’.”

We embrace the former chivalric and reject the latter Faustian terms. The Latinised form of Faustus means ‘of favourable omen’. We can only hope that Drew Faust chooses to follow the positive inclinations of her name, not its literary negatives.

Our fragile and endangered planet needs a genuinely favourable omen. Harvard could play that role. We desperately need their brave of heart, their daring, nerve and chivalry.

Today or tomorrow will do, but today would be better.

Further reading:

Yes, we too can profit by killing the planet because… we’re Harvard

Fossil fuel divestment is neither ‘warranted or wise’, says Harvard president

Students criticise Harvard’s ‘false neutrality’ over fossil fuel divestment

Fighting climate change is a moral obligation, Seattle mayor tells Harvard president

Students, universities and fossil fuels: divestment campaign comes to UK

The Guide to Climate Change 2013

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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